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The short and tongue of it: A brief look at glossaphilia

“Is there such a thing as a tongue fetish? I wouldn’t be surprised if there is, people can have a fetish for the most weird things so it wouldn’t be surprising at all if there was such a thing, I personally haven’t heard of one before but would say its true” (Question and answer on Ask.com).

If you type in the words ‘tongue fetish’ into Google it lists hundreds (if not thousands) of websites (mainly in the form of pornographic video clips). This includes such websites as Tongue Fetish Organization (that claims to be “the leading tongue fetish site on the net”), and Tonguefetish.net, as well as dedicated webpages on tongue fetishes at such sites as Daily Motion and Tongue Art (please be warned that these are all sexually explicit sites).

One of the strangest stories in recent years concerned Jafny Mohamed Sunny, a young male sex offender who had a fetish for young girls’ tongues. As was reported in the Asian Press:

[Jafny Mohamed Sunny] used his military police credentials to pass himself off as a police officer. And he did that with the vilest of intentions – so he could frighten and coerce his young, vulnerable victims – as young as 12 years old – into quiet places at HDB blocks, where he could molest and do horrible things to them. [He] also had a fetish. After cornering some of his female victims, he would ask them to stick out their tongues – just so he could touch them. He later explained to a psychiatrist that he did that because he had an urge to know the length of girls’ tongues. He claimed ‘voices’ in his head compelled him to do it, and said he would get inner satisfaction after checking the lengths of girls’ tongues. Jafny had checked the tongues of five girls on different occasions. [He] was sentenced to 8½ years’ jail and 12 strokes of the cane for three out of 10 charges that were proceeded against him”.

This case obviously concerned a fetishist where the behaviour that he engaged in was non-consensual and problematic. However, at Gaia Online, one person posted that they had “just discovered I have a tongue fetish”. When asked by another of the forum members what it involved, the person simply responded that when they saw a person’s tongue, they got sexually aroused (with the tongue being stuck out of the mouth in some sort of sexual manner obviously”). This led one person to assert that this was the “lamest fetish ever” he’d ever heard of. However, this doesn’t seem to be an isolated case as I have come across a number of examples of people who claim to have a tongue fetish. Here is a selection:

  • Extract 1 (male): “I have a friend who has a tongue fetish, specifically for girls and women making the ‘raspberry noise’ as has often been seen in comedy shows through the years…He’s a quiet person by nature”.
  • Extract 2 (male): “I’ve recently hooked up with this chick that has a really long tongue and I find myself strangely drawn towards it. Yeah that’s right, I think I have a fetish for long tongues on chicks”.
  • http://www.joblo.com/forums/showthread.php?p=3639539
  • Extract 3 (male): “I have a tongue fetish, I love it when female’s use it [to lick my testicles]”.
  • Extract 4 (male): “Mine is a tongue fetish thing, had it since being a randy teen. Tongues are the most erotic thing for me and even the sort of woman you normally wouldn’t look at twice can turn herself into a sex goddess with a well timed tongue teaser. Doesn’t have to be used during sex, oral or whatever, just a glance at a woman with a seductive tongue can win me over”.
  • Extract 5 (female): “I have a tongue fetish whether I’m with a guy or thinking of a guy when I’m masturbating. I love tongues…In my mouth, receiving oral, or just having it explore my body its all good. I get really turned on using mine too, watching and feeling how a guy responds to the feel of my tongue on his body is a big turn on for me”.
  • Extract 6 (gender undetermined): I’m fairly sure I have a tongue fetish. Licking, specifically. But then again, what else can you really do with a tongue? Soft tongues are especially nice. I don’t really know why I like it so much, though”.

There doesn’t seem to be any kind of pattern from the examples that I have come across except that it appears (as are most fetishes) to be male dominated. I have also excluded examples of those with sexual tongue piercing fetishes (which I would argue are totally different), tongue licking as part of sexual humiliation in sadomasochistic practices (such as sexual slaves being forced to lick their master’s shoes clean), and those who would describe themselves as ‘licking fetishists’ as these people do not fetishize the tongue per se, but the actions and feelings of being licked (typically on a sexual body part). However, as noted in the examples above, the licking action of the tongue cannot be completely divorced from those who sexualize the tongue and find the tongue ‘sexy’ in and of itself.

As I have never seen this sexual behaviour officually listed in any reputable academic source (and it certainly does not appear in either Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices or Dr. Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices), I have decided to give such behaviour a name. The Greek word for ‘tongue’ is ‘glossa’ and the word ‘glossal’ usually refers to, relates to, and/or pertains to, the tongue. Therefore, I am naming the behaviour ‘glossaphilia’ – a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal from human tongues.

I deliberately used the word ‘human’ as I noted in a previous blog on zoophilic classification to what Dr. Anil Aggrawal calls fetishistic zoophiles that keep various animal parts that they then use as an erotic stimulus as a crucial part of their sexual activity. Such individuals have been reported in the clinical literature including the case of a woman (reported in a 1990 issue of the American Journal of Forensic Medical Pathology) who used the tongue of a deer as her primary masturbatory aid.

I’ve only come across one academic research paper that makes any mention of mouth-related fetishes. In a previous blog on odontophilia (a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal from teeth), I wrote about a study led by Dr G. Scorolli (University of Bologna, Italy) on the relative prevalence of different fetishes using online fetish forum data. It was estimated (very conservatively in the authors’ opinion), that their sample size comprised at least 5000 fetishists (but was likely to be considerably more). Their results showed that there were 1697 fetishists (2% of all fetishists) with a sexual interest in aspects of the mouth on the websites they studied (although they only reported lips, teeth and the mouth in general, rather than a specific mention of the tongue).

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Aggrawal, A. (2011). A new classification of zoophilia. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 18, 73-78.

Love, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Greenwich Editions.

Randall, M.B., Vance, R.P., McCalmont, T.H. (1990). Xenolingual autoeroticism. American Journal of Forensic and Medical Pathology, 11, 89-92.

Scorolli, C., Ghirlanda, S., Enquist, M., Zattoni, S. & Jannini, E.A. (2007). Relative prevalence of different fetishes. International Journal of Impotence Research, 19, 432-437.

Guilty pleasures: A brief look at pecattiphilia‬

Arguably one of the rarest sexual paraphilias is pecattiphilia. According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, pecattiphilia refers to individuals that derive sexual pleasure from sinning or having committed an imaginary crime (although later on the same page, Dr Aggrawal simply defines it as “sexual arousal from sinning or guilt”). Dr. Brenda Love in her Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices also provides a similar definition and says that pecattiphilia is “the sexual arousal one gets from sinning…this may also display itself as a form of guilt”. The Wikipedia entry on pecattiphilia is also similar and defines the behaviour as “sexual arousal from performing an act one believes is a sin”. The short entry then speculates that it “would presumably include, for example, such acts of lust as fornication or sodomy, or also the acting out any of the other seven deadly sins beside lust”.

Finally, the online medical website Right Diagnosis describes the symptoms of pecattiphilia as (i) sexual interest in stealing or sinning, (ii) recurring intense sexual urges involving stealing or sinning, and/or sexual arousal from stealing or sinning. As far as I am aware, there is absolutely no academic or clinical research on pecattiphilia, and much of what I have read on the topic is purely speculative. In her encyclopedia entry, Dr. Love wrote that:

“Religious teenagers sometimes suffer from a dilemma when they masturbate because they are taught that God will punish or perhaps kill them for this ‘perversion’. A few have grown up with a fascination for sex play that involves life and death risks in order to recapture the same emotional intensity that this fear created. Anther type of ‘sinner’ may intensify their feelings of guilt by seducing a virgin, a member of the clergy, wearing religious costumes, listening to hymns during sex, or breaking into a church and using the altar to engage in a form of ritual sex. They may also have their partner say things to make them feel shame or guilt”.

I have no idea where Dr. Love got her information but it certainly wasn’t from any scholarly texts. I would also argue that some of the types of behaviour listed above overlap with other sexual paraphilias and sexual fetishes including melognia (sexual arousal from music), parthenophilia (sexual attraction to, and arousal by virgins), harmatophilia (sexual arousal from sexual incompetence or mistakes), hierophilia (sexual arousal from religious and sacred objects) and uniform fetishism. Dr. Love then goes on to say (again in the absence of any empirical evidence) that:

“Those suffering from extreme pecattiphilia may feel an overabundance of guilt and try to reduce these feelings by having their partner chastise or punish them before they orgasm. This seems to relieve their guilt feelings. Some develop a fear of sexually transmitted diseases afterward or salve their conscience by judging their sex partner. In extreme cases, a psychotic person will murder their victim (usually a prostitute) to expiate both their sins”.

I’m not entirely sure how “extreme pecattiphilia” manifests itself any differently from less extreme pecattiphilia but the whole paragraph is highly speculative. Nothing that I have read on the origins relating to a fear of sexually transmitted diseases (such as my previous blog on syphilophobia) is linked to pecattiphilia. To conclude, Dr. Love writes about both the positive and negative role that guilt may play in the development of pecattiphilia:

“Guilt can have a positive force in our lives if it calls attention to conduct that requires more responsible action. Additional understanding of our behavior, values, and needs help to prioritize our goals and make relevant changes. Guilt can help us to become more empathetic toward the weaknesses of others making it easier to develop and maintain relationships. Conversely, guilt can have negative effects when people use it to judge and inflict emotional and physical pain on themselves and others. Some psychologists believe that guilt is higher among people who have a more limited awareness of life and who have a more limited awareness of life and who are stuck in a restrictive and repressive lifestyle. A person who imposes guilt on others is practicing a form of sadism because they expect the person to self-inflict emotional pain”.

Dr. Love’s assertion that imposing guilt upon others is a form of sexual sadism is not one that I personally adhere to as I personally think guilt is not a form of pain (although I acknowledge that for some people extreme guilt can be psychologically painful). The only other article I have found on pecattiphilia was an admittedly non-academic one by Susan Edwards writing on Lady Jaided’s Sex Talk for Wicked Women website. Her article noted:

“Sin is sexy. Probably has something to do with the belief that sex is sinful. The more taboo you make it, the more compelling it is. If I had known about [pecattiphilia] in junior high, I would have thought of it as the Catholic School Girl and Preacher’s Kid Fetish. Those were the two groups in my neighborhood who seemed to get off the most on sinning, who were the most creative in coming up with ways to sin and the most energetic in pursuing its pleasures. When Wynona Ryder got busted for shoplifting, people wondered why such a rich, famous person would so such a thing. Maybe she’s a pecattiphiliac”.

Although I started this blog by saying pecattiphilia is very rare, one very small (very unscientific and self-selected sample) 2007 survey of 40 people (32 men and 8 women) responded to the ‘First Ever Viner Fetish Survey’ at the Celestina Newsvine website. The survey listed dozens of sexual paraphilias and asked respondents to tick any of them that they had “enjoyed” or “think they would enjoy”. Four of the respondents (10%) responded affirmatively. Obviously, I have no why of knowing the extent to which the four people had or hadn’t engaged in a pecattiphilic cat (or whether they were even telling the truth). However, it is the only statistic I have ever come across relating to the behaviour. Given the arguable overlaps with other sexually paraphilic behaviours, I’m really undecided about whether pecattiphilia really exists. As far as I can see, there are no published case studies, no online forums for pecattiphiliacs to discuss their sexual preferences, and no niche pornographic sites associated with the behaviour. In short, I have found very little evidence (even anecdotally) that it exists and/or or is a genuine sexual paraphilia.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Celestina (2007). First ever Viner fetish survey, December 3. Located at: http://celestina.newsvine.com/_news/2007/12/03/1138900-first-ever-viner-fetish-survey

Edwards, S. (2008). Tempting transgressions. Sex Talk for Wicked Women, September 10. Located at: http://sextalkforwickedwomen.blogspot.co.uk/2008/09/tempting-transgressions.html?zx=b773f275f414b3f9

Love, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Greenwich Editions.

Right Diagnosis (2013). Pecattiphilia. May 7. Located at: http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/p/pecattiphilia/intro.htm

Wikipedia (2013). Pecattiphilia. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pecattiphilia

From the university of perversity (Part 2): An A to Z of non-researched sexual paraphilias and strange sexual behaviours

In a previous blog I did an A-Z of sexual paraphilias about which we know almost nothing. Today’s blog takes a brief A to Z look at another 26 unusual and/or strange sexual behaviours where (as far as I am aware) there is absolutely no empirical or clinical research on the topic. The majority of the paraphilias below can be found in either Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices and/or Dr. Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices (although a few were also taken from such sources as the Write World’s dedicated webpage on ‘philias’ and the online Urban Dictionary).

  • Autodermatophagia: This behaviour involves eating one’s own flesh as a form of erotic auto-masochism. The only place I’ve seen this mentioned is in Dr. Aggrawal’s book and appears to be a sub-variant of autosarcophogy (i.e., self-cannibalism) that I covered in a previous blog.
  • Brontophilia: This behaviour involves people who derive sexual arousal from thunderstorms. It was also the inspiration for the song Brontophilia (Satanic Anal Thunder) by the group Spasm (Google it if you don’t believe me!)
  • Cryptoscopophilia: This is the desire to see behaviour of others in privacy of their home (although some sources claim it is not necessarily sexual). The One Look website lists three different websites that have definitions including the online Urban Dictionary that defines it as “the urge to look through the windows of homes upon walking past them. Usually done for sexual satisfaction/curiosity reasons”. This appears to be a sub-type of voyeurism.
  • Dermaphilia: This is a behaviour in which the sexual stimulus for arousal comes from skin. The Sex Lexis definition website is a little more specific and claims that it is common among leather fetishists who becomes sexually aroused “when coming in direct contact with the skin or leather from animals or humans, from wearing leather clothing”.
  • Ederacinism: This is possibly one of the most unbelievable behaviours on this list and refers to the tearing out of sexual organs by the roots as in a frenzied way to punish oneself for sexual cravings. This would appear to be a sub-variant of genital self-mutilation and/or Klingsor Syndrome (that I covered in previous blogs).
  • Furtling: According to Dr. Aggrawal’s book, this behaviour involves the use of a person’s fingers underneath cut-outs in genital areas of photos as a way of gaining sexual arousal. It is also listed in a Spanish article on sexual paraphilias by Dr. Ruben Serrano in the Revista Venezolana de Urologia.
  • Gynotikolobomassophilia: This apparently refers to sexual pleasure from nibbling on a woman’s earlobe (aural sex?). At least four websites list this as a bona fide sexual activity according to the One Look webpage.
  • Hodophilia: This behaviour refers to individuals that derive sexual arousal from travelling (at least according to Dr. Aggrawal’s book). It is unclear whether this refers to modes of travelling (such as those who derive sexual pleasure from riding in cars or trains) or whether it refers to deriving sexual pleasure from being a tourist.
  • Icolagnia: Again found in Dr. Aggrawal’s book and is defined as those individuals who derive sexual arousal from contemplation of, or contact with, sculptures or pictures. This would seem to overlap with more specific sexual paraphilias such as agalmatophilia (sexual arousal from statues and/or manquins) that I covered in a previous blog.
  • Judeophilia: According to the Write World website, this behaviour involves “abnormal” sexual affection towards Jewish people. I have never come across this in any reputable sexual text.
  • Kokigami: According to the online Urban Dictionary, this involves the wrapping of the penis in a paper costume. The roots of Kokigami apparently lie in the eighth-century Japanese aristocrats who practiced the art of Tsutsumi (i.e., a man wrapped his penis with silk and ribbons in elaborate designs as a gift to lovers. He would then enjoy the physical sensations as his lover carefully unwrapped her prize.
  • Lygerastia: This is mentioned in Dr. Brenda Love’s sex encyclopedia and refers to tendency to being sexually aroused by being in darkness. This would appear to share psychological and behavioural overlaps with amaurophilia (sexual arousal from blindness) that I covered in a previous blog.
  • Melolagnia: This behaviour refers to those individuals who derive sexual arousal from music (and listed as a sexual paraphilia by both Dr. Love and Dr. Aggrawal).
  • Nanophilia: This refers to sexual arousal from having a short or small sexual partner. This is one of the few behaviours on this list that has been mentioned in an empirical research paper (as it was mentioned in the research on fetishes by Dr. C. Scorolli and colleagues in the International Journal of Impotence Research
  • Oenosugia: According to Dr. Aggrawal, this behaviour refers to the pouring wine over female breasts and licking it off. If you type ‘oenosugia’ into Google you get only two hits (one of which is Dr. Aggrawal’s book).
  • Phygephilia: I’m not sure how many people this could possibly refer to but Dr. Aggrawal defines this behaviour as sexual arousal from being a fugitive. The Inovun website defines it as “arousal from flight” (i.e., running away).
  • Queening: According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal, queening is a BDSM practice in where one sexual partner sits on or over another person’s face “typically to allow oral-genital or oral anal contact, or to practice ass worship or body worship”. In the book’s glossary of sexual terms, Dr. Aggrawal simply defines queening as “sitting on the side of a person’s face as a form of bondage”.
  • Rupophilia: According to the online Kinkopedia this behaviour refers to a sexual attraction towards dirt
(and presumably derives from the word ‘rupophobia’ that is a phobia towards dirt). This sexual paraphilia would seem to share similarities with mysophilia (i.e., sexual arousal from filth and unclean items) that I covered in a previous blog.
  • Savantophilia: According to Dr. Aggrawal, this behaviour refers to those who are sexually aroused by mentally challenged individuals. The only case that I am aware of that could potentially fit such a description is Jimmy Saville (see my previous blog for details).
  • Tripsophilia: According to the Sex Lexis website, this behaviour refers to being sexually arousal by being “messaged or otherwise manipulated”. Dr. Aggrawal describes the same behaviour as tripsolagnophilia.
  • Undinism: Dr. Aggrawal simply describes this behaviour as individuals who derive sexual arousal from water. This appears to be another name for aquaphilia (that I covered in a previous blog).
  • Vernalagnia: This is a seasonal behaviour and according to Dr. Aggrawal refers to an increase in sexual desire in the spring. Another online website simply defines it less sexually as a romantic mood brought on by spring”.
  • Wakamezake: This appears to be similar to oenosugia (above), and is a sexual term originating in Japan involving the drinking alcohol (such as sake) from a woman’s body. The Wikipedia entry on ‘food play’ provides a description: The woman closes her legs tight enough that the triangle between the thighs and mons pubis form a cup, and then pours sake down her chest into this triangle. Her partner then drinks the sake from there. The name comes from the idea that the woman’s pubic hair in the sake resembles soft seaweed (wakame) floating in the sea”.
  • Xenoglossophilia: I have yet to find this sexual act in any academic text but a few online websites define this as a sexual affection for foreign languages. I briefly mentioned this behaviour in a previous blog on xenophilia (sexual arousal from strangers) but asserted that such behaviour could hardly be classed as a sexual paraphilia.
  • Yoni worship: This refers to the worship of the female genitals (yoni is the Sanskrit word for the vagina). There are some interesting articles on Yoni worship at both the Basically Blah and Tantric Serenity websites.
  • Zeusophilia: I have yet to come across this behaviour in any reputable academic text, but a number of online websites (such as the Write World website) all claim that this behaviour refers to a sexual love of God or gods.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Gates, K. (2000). Deviant Desires: Incredibly Strange Sex. New York: RE/Search Publications.

Love, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Greenwich Editions.

Scorolli, C., Ghirlanda, S., Enquist, M., Zattoni, S. & Jannini, E.A. (2007). Relative prevalence of different fetishes. International Journal of Impotence Research, 19, 432-437.

Serrano, R.H. (2004). Parafilias. Revista Venezolana de Urologia, 50, 64-69

Write World (2013). Philias. Located at: http://writeworld.tumblr.com/philiaquirks

The tooth about love: A brief look at odontophilia

According to both Dr. Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices and Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, odontophilia is a sexual paraphilia that refers to individuals who derive sexual pleasure and arousal involving teeth. The online Urban Dictionary goes a little further and describes it as a sexual fetish where individuals are sexually aroused by (i) licking a sexual partner’s teeth, (ii) leaving the imprint of teeth on their lover’s skin (or vice versa), (iii) pulling out a sexual partner’s teeth (or anything concerning dentistry). The online medical website Right Diagnosis defines odontophilia as referring to sexual urges, preferences or fantasies involving teeth. Given these definitions (particularly the one in the Urban Dictionary) they suggest an overlap with sexual biting fetishes (i.e., odaxelagnia, which I covered in a previous blog).

Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices spends quite a lot of time looking at odontophilia from a historical and literary perspective and recounts the work of the Marquis de Sade. It is said that de Sade based his writings on the sex life of others, and Dr. Love selected one of de Sade’s passages to exemplify odontophilia relating to a tooth extraction:

“The passion of Bonifice is also singular. He loves pulling out the teeth of his victims, while fucking them and being simultaneously sodomized. One who becomes the victim of these gentlemen is Fosine, fourteen years old, with a beautiful form, and a rich family. She promises the ideal combination of lust and profit. Both Boniface and Chrysostome wish to indulge themselves with her, and after pulling out her thirsty two beautiful teeth, she is subjected to the Superior, who immolates her in his own fashion”.

Dr. Love then goes on to say that it’s highly doubtful whether anyone today would practice odontophilia in the form described by de Sade. She then says:

“However, it is possible that an occasional tooth extraction scene occurred in 1797 when de Sade wrote his book. Nitrous oxide and ether were not used to extract teeth until 1840 and Novocain was not produced until the beginning of this century; therefore people during de Sade’s lifetime were accustomed to having their teeth removed without effective painkillers. The pulling of teeth may be arousing even with the advent of anesthesia as noted in Erich von Stroheim’s film Greed. Here the beautiful patient is kissed by her dentist as the blood still flows from her mouth”.

In researching this blog, I only located a couple of articles on the topic. The Everyday Entropy website features a first-hand account by someone who claims that “teeth get me hot” but after reading their story, it was quite clear that the person writing the article is far from being an odontophile. A better article on odontophilia was written by Billie Rosie who links the condition with vampirism. He noted:

“Perhaps the closest we get to identifying an obsession with teeth is through vampire stories and films. These equate teeth, especially long canine teeth with danger. The vampire will pierce your vein and sip your blood straight from the jugular – if the vampire takes too much you will die and according to some vampire lore, you will become a vampire, roaming the night in search of prey. Vampires are sexy. Anne Rice, I think, made them sexy. Following the predatory Lestat, came True Blood, Twilight, The Vampire Diaries – the list goes on”.

Rosie also made heavy reference to the short story Berenice written in 1835 by Edgar Allen Poe. The story’s narrator (Egaeus) grows up with his cousin (Berenice):

“[Egaeus] suffers from a type of obsessive disorder, a monomania that makes him fixate on objects. She, originally beautiful, suffers from some unspecified degenerative illness, with periods of catalepsy a particular symptom, which he refers to as a trance…One afternoon, Egaeus sees Berenice as he sits in the library. When she smiles, he focuses on her teeth. His obsession grips him, and for days he drifts in and out of awareness, constantly thinking about the teeth. He imagines himself holding the teeth and turning them over to examine them from all angles. At one point a servant tells him that Berenice has died and shall be buried. When he next becomes aware, with an inexplicable terror, he finds a lamp and a small box in front of him. Another servant enters, reporting that a grave has been violated, and a shrouded disfigured body found, still alive. Egaeus finds his clothes are covered in mud and blood, and opens the box to find it contains dental instruments and ‘thirty-two small, white and ivory-looking substances’ – Berenice’s teeth”.

I’ve only come across one academic research paper that makes any mention of odontophilia. In a previous blog on fetishism, I wrote at length about a study led by Dr G. Scorolli (University of Bologna, Italy) on the relative prevalence of different fetishes using online fetish forum data. It was estimated (very conservatively in the authors’ opinion), that their sample size comprised at least 5000 fetishists (but was likely to be considerably more). Their results showed that there were 1697 fetishists (2% of all fetishists) with a sexual interest in odontophilia on the websites they studied (although their definition of odontophilia not only included teeth but also mouth and lips so the number of ‘true’ odontophiles was likely to be a lot lower).

According to the Right Diagnosis website, treatment is generally not sought for odontophilia unless it becomes problematic for the individual and they feel compelled to address the condition. As I have noted in my previous blogs, the majority of sexual fetishists and paraphiliacs simply learn to accept their condition and manage to achieve sexual gratification in an appropriate manner with no problem for the individual or their sexual partners.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Everyday Entropy (2009). Odontophilia. July 12. Located at: http://www.everydayentropy.com/2009/07/odontophilia-mouthful-of-blood.html

Love, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Greenwich Editions.

Rosie, B. (2012). Odontophilia: A fetish for teeth. November 30. Located at: http://billierosie.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/odontophilia-fetish-for-teeth_30.html?zx=e29fd1eddbccbd8c

Scorolli, C., Ghirlanda, S., Enquist, M., Zattoni, S. & Jannini, E.A. (2007). Relative prevalence of different fetishes. International Journal of Impotence Research, 19, 432-437.

Come again? A brief look at semen fetishes

Recently, I was sent an email by one of my regular blog readers saying that there were “two obvious” topics” that I had not covered in my writings so far. The first one was paedophilia (which I have mentioned in passing but have never devotes a whole article to) and the second one was on semen fetish. I’m not going to go into my reasons why I have yet to devote a blog to the topic of paedophilia but the topic of ‘semen fetish’ was honestly not something that had crossed my mind. The email I was sent pointed out that my blog had covered paraphilias and fetishes concerning almost every other bodily fluid (i.e., urine, faeces, blood, menstrual bloodsaliva, tears, breast milk, snot, phlegmvomit, pus and earwax) “apart from the most obvious – namely semen”. Therefore, today’s blog looks ‘semen fetish’ although I know of no academic research or clinical studies on the topic (so not a lot of material to work with).

There is a lot of talk on the internet about almost mythical status that semen has been afforded. This is typified by a story I came across while researching this blog. In April 2010, the BBC reported the case of an Israeli man – Nissim Aharon – who was jailed for 10 years after tricking five women of various ages into various sexual acts (including rape and sodomy) by claiming that his semen was “holy and had healing powers”. Aharon pretended to be a holy rabbi and other authority figures (such as working for Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency) and claimed to the unsuspecting women that his “holiness” could be passed to those who touched him physically, cleansing their bodies. He was eventually arrested in August 2009. A statement by the Israeli Justice Ministry reported that:

“Over many years [Aharon] presented himself as a righteous man, as a saint with healing powers, who exploited the naïvity of women and teenage girls, while carrying out appalling sexual acts and obtaining large sums of money by fraud. He would claim to be a rabbi, and impersonate figures in authority who would then refer women and teenage girls to himself. He would give these people different explanations: among others, that a holy scent comes from him, and that his semen is a holy fluid, which by contact could heal body and soul”.

Another seemingly relevant topic that I found online in relation to semen fetish was talk on various sexual forums about the love of ‘bukkake’ and ‘gokkun’ in pornographic films. I’m aware that some of you reading this will be well aware of these semen-related sexual acts but for the benefit of those who have no idea what I am talking about, I feel duty bound to tell you (but please be warned that my descriptions are sexually explicit).

Bukkake is a sexual act (most commonly seen in hard core pornographic films) where a group of men all simultaneously ejaculate over a women or man. Original bukkake videos are Japanese in origin and date back to the advent of videos in the 1980s. However, bukkake videos (while still arguably a minority market) have been made for both European and American audiences (with an increasing number of such films made for the gay market). The Wikipedia entry on bukkake claims that the sexual act involves “the implied or overt humiliation of the person ejaculated upon” because typically the receiving person is a passive recipient and not sexually stimulated. Some commentators have pointed out that the recipients in Japanese films tend to be much more passive and submissive than the recipients in American films. Feminist campaigner Gail Dines says the act of bukkake “marks the woman as used goods”, conveys a sense of ownership and is “one of the most degrading acts in porn”. Other reactions to bukkake were summarized in the Wikipedia entry:

“A number of authors have described bukkake as premised on humiliation. Forensic psychologist Karen Fanklin has described bukkake as symbolic group rape, characterising its primary purpose as the humiliation, degradation and objectification of women. Lisa Jean Moore and Juliana Weissbein view the use of ejaculation in bukkake as part of a humiliation ritual, noting that it generally does not involve any of the female participants experiencing orgasm”.

Gokkun is also a sexual act that is Japanese in origin and is where a man or woman consumes the semen of one or more men from a drinking receptacle (e.g., cups, glasses, beakers, etc.). The Wikipedia entry on gokkun claims that as the makers of hard-core pornography attempt to outdo each other, the number of men participating in gokkun videos has increased to as many as 140 in American films and 200 on Japanese films.

While there is much written about bukkake, references to semen fetish appear to be rare. The following extract from a self-confessed semen fetishist is one of a few that I have come across online. I chose the following quote because of the level of reflective introspection at the end of the quote. (Again, I also need to point out that the quote is sexually explicit):

 “I have come to terms with the fact that I have a semen fetish. This manifests itself in many ways. Obviously, it is important in my sex life. My current girlfriend is quite open-minded, so she doesn’t have a problem with facials and swallowing. She is also open to some semen play, for example drinking it from a spoon or a wine glass. I have dozens of other semen-related fantasies which I want to try out too…Another manifestation of this fetish is my taste in porn. It’s almost exclusively semen-related movies that I watch because they are the biggest turn on for me. I mostly watch bukkake, gokkun and regular facial movies…I know that I’ll probably be heckled as being gay or whatever, but I don’t mind. The fact is that guys don’t turn me on, but girls do. Perhaps the fact that I like to see girls covered in sperm is more to do with my own desire for women to accept my own semen. I’ve thought that through a lot and it seems likely. Humans tend to associate the face with the identity. And I think on some level, men associate their semen with their personal manhood and identity. To have a girl let you shoot semen onto her face is a symbolic act of acceptance of your identity. There is almost certainly a domination aspect to the act too”

One online article on semen entitled ‘A Modern Craving’ talked about “semen addiction”, “semen fetish” and those “obsessed” with semen. The article claimed it was written to raise issue and bring to the floor the concept of semen addiction”. Without any apparent empirical support the article claimed that:

“In order to relate with semen addiction, it’s important to understand the mentality of those obsessed. Semen addiction is not the pleasure of having your lover swallow your semen following oral sex, nor is it simple pleasure from pornography involving it. Instead, it is a very real sexual necessity for semen, be it digestion, foreplay or a combination of both. Why those who crave semen do so is widely a mystery. The taste, while enjoyable for some, seems not so important as the act, the eroticism, involved in swallowing semen from a man’s sexual organ. In addition, semen fetishes are not by any means limited to a single gender. While it’s debatable of which group is more outspoken of their semen obsession, it’s not such with reference to the fact they can develop in anyone; from homosexual males to heterosexual females to even heterosexual males, to a lesser extent. The insatiable desire for semen is often so unrelated to ordinary sexual addiction that while it’s possible for someone with the condition to enjoy sex without semen, the true climax of the experience can often be better represented as the reception of semen from one’s lover than as the orgasm of his or herself”

As I noted above, there is almost no empirical research on semen fetish, and the “evidence” I have collated in this blog is (at best) anecdotal. The fetish may well exist, but compared to other bodily fluid fetishes, semen fetish appears to be either much more rare or just much less reported both online and in academic journals. Finally, by my reckoning, the only bodily fluids I have left to write about are sweat, bile, and vaginal secretions.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

BBC News (2010). Israel jails man for ‘holy semen’ sex abuse. April 26. Located at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/8644637.stm

Kuro5hin (2002). A modern craving. August 5. Located at: http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2002/8/5/71044/01543

Wikipedia (2012). Bukkake. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bukkake

Wikipedia (2012). Gokkun. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gokkun

Breath duties: A brief look at gas mask fetishism

In a previous blog, I examined mask fetishism that involves individuals who derive sexual pleasure and arousal from either wearing masks and/or seeing others wearing masks. Today’s blog takes a more detailed look at gas mask fetishism. As with mask fetishism more generally, there is little in the way of academic or clinical research on gas mask fetishism, and much of what is known can best be described as anecdotal.

Gas mask fetishism appears to have potential overlap with other types of paraphilic and/or fetishistic behaviour, particularly hypoxyphilia (i.e., deriving sexual pleasure and arousal from oxygen deprivation). For instance, a recent 2011 paper in the Romanian Journal of Legal Medicine led by Dr. Oleg Skugarevsky, examined a couple of deaths due to hypoxyphilia, one of which was wearing a gas mask at the scene of death. They noted that:

[Hypoxyphiliacs] use a variety of techniques to produce the hypoxia like strangulation, suffocation or reduction of the oxygen in the inspired air that may be achieved with plastic bags or gas masks that may allow inhaling some anesthetic gases (chloroform, nitrous oxide) and volatile chemicals (isopropyl nitrite and isobutyl nitrite (“poppers”)”.

A recent (and interesting) 2011 multi-authored paper led by Joe Marshall (Nottingham University, UK) examined the entertainment value of gas masks in a paper entitled: “The gas mask: A probe for exploring fearsome interactions”. They argued that a range of popular entertainment clearly demonstrates that there is “widespread and growing public appetite for extreme, visceral, and horrifying experiences”. Their idea of a gas mask interface emerged out of a long-term project “to develop interactive entertainments using biological sensing, which led to the idea of exploring the aesthetics of respiration monitoring as a form of engaging spectacle and gaming interaction”. Reflecting on their experiences with gas masks as part of the entertainment experience, they identified six key dimensions in designing fearsome interactions, some of which I think are applicable to the use of gas masks in sexual play and gas mask fetishism.

  • The cultural dimension: Many scholars have argued that emotions and culture are intertwined, therefore, when it comes to the use of gas masks in a leisure context, it has to take into account the cultural context. Marshall and colleagues argue that gas masks clearly have a very striking and unusual aesthetic with strong cultural associations. Clearly, gas masks are likely to evoke images of warfare, law enforcement, riot control police, etc. For those using gas masks as part of bondage and BDSM play, these associations of power and strength may be an important part of sexual roleplay. Marshall and colleagues themselves also note that:“[Gas masks] are also associated with sexual behaviour as part of sexual practices surrounding breathplay and erotic asphyxiation. Moreover, bondage wear is now increasingly fashionable – for example London’s Torture Garden fetish and body modification nightclub has moved over the last 20 years from being a semi-legal club, regularly shut down by the police, to become a well established entertainment and fetish clothing brand. Interestingly, other researchers have noted [human-computer interaction’s] ‘tendency to desexualise technology and have sought to raise an agenda for researching ‘sexual interactions. It is therefore important to recognise that gas masks may suggest various fearsome and/or sexual associations and possibly heighten both kinds of arousal”
  • The visceral dimension: Marshall and colleagues note there is “a striking physicality to donning a gas mask which may amplify the fearsome nature of horror experiences in several more direct ways”. This again is likely to enhance the experience for sadomasochists who utilize gas mask equipment. As they also note, for many this results in “an unusual and somewhat uncomfortable physical sensation, while others may experience something closer to claustrophobia”. As I noted in a previous blog on claustrophilia (i.e., deriving sexual pleasure and arousal from being confined in small places), gas masks for this type of paraphiliac might be a sensual turn on.
  • The control dimension: Marshall and colleagues note that an important aspect of fearsome experiences is the “committing to a scary and unknown experience and not being able to back out, either physically or socially”. This again, is critical in some BDSM scenarios and is critical in ‘breath play’ aspects of sadomasochistic activity. Additionally, it allows one dominant participant to control, through their breathing, the physical experience of a submissive other and “playing on the fear and thrill of being controlled by, and controlling, others”.
  • The social dimension: Marshall and colleagues note that by enclosing a person’s face in a gas mask creates a situation whereby the mask wearer is made anonymous. This leads to effects that may be especially important in BDSM situations. Firstly, the wearer feels isolated and/or dehumanized. Secondly, those viewing the person wearing the gas mask may see the person as anonymous and (potentially) non-human.
  • The performance dimension: Marshall and colleagues argue that the performance dimension has the potential to amplify the scary and fearsome nature of interactions while wearing a gas mask. This form of viewing via gas mask has the potential keeping social interactions somewhat ambiguous, allowing the participant to interpret the situation themselves. This again may be an important part of fantasy-based BDSM play, and the anticipation of what may happen may be more sexually exciting for the mask wearer than what happens in actuality.
  • The engineering dimension: Finally, Marshall and colleagues acknowledge the significant engineering challenges involved in creating wearable sensors that are sufficiently robust to operate within leisure contexts (although personally I don’t think there are many implications for sexual use from an engineering perspective).

Marshall and his colleagues concluded that many popular entertainments involve people voluntarily undergoing fearsome experiences (and my own take on this is that it can involve sexual behaviour and experiences). Ultimately, they argued that the creation of scary experiences has to take account of the multi-faceted nature of fear, that involves cultural, visceral, social, and control factors outlined above.

I’ve yet to come across any focused research on gas mask fetishes and/or sexuality. There are a few first person articles examining the issue although not from the user perspective. I’ll leave you with perhaps the most interesting by artist Callidus who examined gas mask fetishism from an aesthetic perspective after coming across (by accident) some gas mask imagery:

“I’m not sure why gas mask imagery has never really appealed to me; any more than I understand why its such a turn-on for others…When I came across this particular series of images, what really grabbed my interest was the contrast…Contrast is the foundation of all design. Whether its contrast between form, color, or aesthetic, the difference between A and B is where interesting things happen. In this case, I found the contrast between the beautiful lines of the female form and the harsh, industrial design of a gas mask to be very striking…I find bondage to be especially potent here. The image of a woman encased in this foreboding mask, unable to shut out the sights or sounds engulfing her senses while her limbs are restrained from affecting any sort of aid. It works for me”

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Bebbington, P.E. (1977). Treatment of male sexual deviation by use of a vibrator: Case report. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 6, 21-24.

Callidus (2011). I don’t have a gas mask fetish…and yet. August 3. Located at: http://callidus-mc.com/animated-manips/i-dont-have-a-gas-mask-fetish-and-yet

Love, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Greenwich Editions.

Marshall, J., Walker, B., Benford, S., Tomlinson, G, Egglestone, S.R., Reeves, S. Brundell, P., Tennent, P., Cranwell, J., Harter, P. & Longhurst, J. (2011). The gas mask: A probe for exploring fearsome interactions. Proceedings of the 2011 Annual Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp.127-136). New York, NY.

Nation Master (2012). Mask fetishism. Located at: http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Mask-fetishism

Skugarevsky, O., Ehrlich, E., & Sheleg, S. (2011). Accidental strangulation resulted from hypoxyphilia associated with multiple paraphilias and substance abuse: a psychological autopsy case report. Romanian Journal of Legal Medicine, 19, 249-252.

Nettle down: A brief look at sexual urtication

“I find applying stinging nettles to my body highly pleasurable. I’ve tried the web for more information but either get herbalist pages or, when searching the words ‘nettles’ and ‘fetish’ together, get directed to [sado-masochsistic]-type pages. I don’t really go for that. Can you direct me somewhere where I can get advice? Are there any long-term dangers in exposing my ‘delicate areas’ to the little green temptresses?” (Seriously Twisted Into Nettle Games, letter in The Stranger)

In a previous blog I examined the sexual use of bee stings as a method used by men to increase the size of their penis. It was while researching that blog that I came across another sting-related sexual practice called urtication. According to the Wikipedia entry on stinging nettles, urtication, refers to the “flogging with nettles [and] is the process of deliberately applying stinging nettles to the skin in order to provoke inflammation”. In a sexual context, Dr. Anil Aggrawal (in his book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices) defines urtication as the use of stinging nettles to create extra sexual sensation.

Although there are numerous scientific papers on urtication (particularly in relation to the physiology of nettle stings, the treatment of nettle stings, and medical uses such as the use of stinging nettles to treat joint and back pain), I was unable to locate a single paper on the sexual use of stinging nettles. Dr. Brenda Love (in her Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices) included a whole section on sexual urtication. She notes that:

“Urtication refers to those who use stinging nettles to stimulate the skin for sex games. The active ingredients in the stinging nettle do not spread to other areas but are restricted to the site at which the plant comes into contact. Nettles have tiny hair-like projections rather than thorns which can break and stick to the skin. The skin becomes sensitized without the injury that certain types of flagellation can produce. Skin exposed to nettles will redden and in a short time produce small bumps. The person will feel a sharp hot sting that fades to a warm tingling glow which may last several hours. Nettles may be applied in various ways. Some lie the stems down and press the hairs into the skin, others hold them in a cluster and tap it against the chosen area, or put them into a bottom’s underwear. Men who wear condoms have found that briefly applying nettles to the penis before putting on the condom can compensate for the sensation lost by the latex barrier”.

Obviously the claim about condom use is anecdotal and there is no empirical evidence that supports the claim made (although I have no reason to doubt it). However, I did come across a semi-corroborative source in a short online article on ‘unusual sex practices’ that included a paragraph on urtication. It noted that:

“The sexual practice which is technically called urtication is concerned with the desire for stinging plants, for example nettles that we use to ‘torture’ the partner’s body. It all depends on our courage, which means that some people who like doing this go very far and ‘burn’ their genitals as well. A confession of a man who admitted he put a nettle leaf on the inside of his condom in also very interesting. Supposedly, this really arouses him during intercourse and provides him with additional pleasure. The same goes for a woman who said that she adores it when her partner stimulates her vagina with nettle during foreplay. It has a similar effect to hot wax and whipping. The skin is naturally much more irritated after contact with the nettle”.

Writing for The Stranger, the US journalist Dan Savage addressed stinging nettle fetishes in one of his columns. His own research (which from what I can gather involved reading Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Herbs) led him to write that the Romans thrashed men “below the navel” to improve their virility. He also interviewed Tracy Mehlin (Center for Urban Horticulture at the University of Washington, US). She was quoted as saying she once knew a farmhand “who occasionally lashed himself with stinging nettles” but never asked him why he did it. She also reported that:

“The leaves and stems of stinging nettles are covered with tiny hollow hairs. When a person comes in contact with the plant, the tips of the hairs break off, stick in the person’s skin, and then, like a lot of little hypodermic needles, pump in a venom that makes the skin itch, swell, tingle, and burn for hours. There are some people who enjoy the effect”.

An online article on ‘Organic S&M’ noted the many different uses of stinging nettles throughout history. The only ones of a sexual nature was their use by English herbwives to ‘encourage’ prize bulls during the mating season, and by English mistresses for much the same purpose. And they were as common in Victorian era erotica as figging, birches, and caning”.

An online article at the London Fetish Scene website discusses the sexual use of stinging nettles. The article notes that stinging nettle effects differ in intensity from variety to variety (and even the soil they are growing in). There is also great individual variation (in that the same stinging nettle used on one person may exact different effects in another). The article also claims that the same person can feel different effects based on other factors such as whether a women is menstruating.

In addition to using stinging nettles for flogging, the article also lists four other sexual uses. These include (i) using stinging nettles as an alternative to ginger for ‘figging’ (i.e., the act of inserting something into the body that will cause a stinging, burning sensation for sexual pleasure), (ii) putting stinging nettles into the victim’s underwear, (iii) applying stinging nettles to the penis just before putting on a condom (as noted above by Dr. Brenda Love), and (iv) forcing a submissive to consume stinging nettles (although the article then adds that the safety of this is very uncertain given that raw nettles are poisonous). Finally, if you’re really interested in learning more about the use of stinging nettles in BDSM practices (from a practical rather than academic point of view), then check out the FAQ page of the Sado-Botany website.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Alford, L. (2007). Urtication for Musculoskeletal Pain? Pain Medicine, 9, 963-965.

Christopher (2000). Organic S&M, December 16. Located at: http://web.archive.org/web/20031211012237/http://www.utahpowerexchange.org/articles/organicSM.html

Kowalchik, C. & Hylton, W.H. (1999). Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.

London Fetish Scene (2009). Nettle. February 5. Located at: http://www.londonfetishscene.com/wipi/index.php/Nettle

Love, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Greenwich Editions.

Randall, C., Meethan, K., Randall, H. & Dobbs, F. (1999). Nettle sting of Urtica dioica for joint pain – an exploratory study of this complementary therapy. Complimentary Therapies in Medicine, 7, 126-131.

Savage, D. (2003). Gas huffer. The Stranger, June 12. Located at: http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/SavageLove?oid=14566

Urtication.com (2012). Urtication: Sex & Nettles. Located at: http://www.urtication.com/

Wikipedia (2012). Stinging nettle. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stinging_nettle

Zee News (2012). Unusual sexual practices: Urtication. Located at: http://zeenews.india.com/entertainment/print.aspx?aid=117201

Contractual arrangements: A brief look at ‘bug chasing’

Despite being fairly well read on sexually extreme behaviour, it wasn’t until relatively recently (in the last 12 months) that I came across the terms ‘bug chasing’ and ‘pozzing’. Both of these slang terms refer to the practice of people (usually gay or bisexual men) deliberately engaging in unprotected (‘bareback’) sex with men who are known to be HIV-positive in an attempt to contract the HIV virus (“bug”) themselves (hence the name ‘pozzing’ deriving from the word ‘positive’). This has led to knowing recipients of bug chasers being called ‘gift givers’ (i.e., those that allow sexual partners to contract the HIV virus). Despite some people believing the practice to be a complete myth, empirical research does indeed conform the existence of the practice.

However, there is a clear distinction concerning intent between those who don’t want to engage in protective sex because they prefer penetrative sex and/or prefer sex without condoms (the so-called ‘barebackers’), and those who don’t want to engage in unprotected sex in order to contract a life-threatening sexually transmitted disease (so-called ‘bug chasers’). The consequence of this clear distinction means that all bug chasers are barebackers but not all barebackers are bug chasers.

Research has been carried out suggesting various reasons for why men would want to deliberately contract HIV. In a 2004 paper in the British Journal of Social Psychology, Dr. Michele Crossley reported some men indicate that the practice is highly exciting because it is such a highly risky behaviour (in that they could ultimately die from contracting the virus). However, such a reason suggests that such individuals don’t actually want to contract HIV (and seems psychologically akin to playing Russian roulette). The same paper also noted that some bug chasers appear to be very lonely people who want to contract AIDS so that they will receive the attention, nurturance and care that they feel they need (and therefore share similarities with those who have Munchausen’s Syndrome). Similarly, others see the contracting of HIV as way becoming part of a community that elicits public sympathy and caretaking.

Writing in the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy, a paper by Dr. Mark Blechner in 2002 examined the the psychodynamics of barebacking and safer sex. Dr. Blechner argued that the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s, gay men had personal experience of multiple deaths and were “terrified by a new, mysterious, and untreatable disease”. This was contrasted with today’s gay men who were much less afraid of contracting HIV and considered condom use as more restrictive, less intimate and less pleasurable than older gay men. There also appears to be a small minority of gay men who are so anxious and overwhelmed about the thought of contracting HIV that actually contracting it would help overcome the negative psychological states they experience.

In 2007, Dr. David Moskowitz and his colleagues carried out a study published in the journal Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity. They compared 284 bug chasers and barebackers. Their results showed that bug chasers were considerably different from barebackers regarding sexually paraphilic activities (for instance, bug chasers were far more likely to engage in sexually sadomasochistic activities), and significantly more likely than barebackers to rank higher on behavioural and psychological measures of sexual addiction. The Wikipedia entry on bug chasing also provides further reasons for wanting to contract HIV: 

“The behavior may stem from a ‘resistance to dominant heterosexual norms and mores’ due to a defensive response by gay men to repudiate stigmatization and rejection by society. Some people consider bug chasing ‘intensely erotic’ and the act of being infected as the “ultimate taboo, the most extreme sex act left’. A number of people who are HIV negative and in a relationship with someone who is HIV positive seek infection as a way to remain in the relationship, particularly when the HIV positive partner may wish to break up to avoid infecting the HIV negative partner. Some contend that this behaviour stems from feelings of inevitability towards HIV among the gay community and the empowerment of choosing when to contract the virus”.

In 1999, Dr. DeAnn Gauthier and Dr. Craig Forsyth published a paper on bareback subculture in the journal Deviant Behavior and noted in their interviews with gay men that a few of their participants wanted to contract the HIV virus. In previous blogs, I have written about how the internet has facilitated the meeting of like-minded people (such as people who are cannibals meeting up with people wanting to be eaten). A paper by Dr. Richard Tewksbury (also published in the journal Deviant Behavior) entitled ‘Bareback sex and the quest for HIV: Assessing the relationship in internet personal advertisements of men who have sex with men’. This was arguably the first academic paper to find empirical evidence that bug chasers had moved with the times and were looking for ‘gift givers’ online.

One of the best (and most interesting) papers published on bug chasers and gift givers was published in a few years ago in an issue of the journal AIDS Education and Prevention by Dr. Christian Grov and Dr, Jeffrey Parsons. Their research examined the online profiles of over a thousand bug chasers and gift givers (n=1228) and classified such people into one of six types. These comprised:

  • Committed Bug Chasers (7.5% of the total sample): This type comprised men who were HIV-negative but actively seeking HIV-positive partners.
  • Opportunistic Bug Chasers (12.1%): This type comprised men who were HIV-negative but were not bothered about the HIV status of their prospective partner.
  • Committed Gift Givers (0.4%): This type comprised men who were HIV-positive and sought HIV-negative partners.
  • Opportunistic Gift Givers (26%): This type comprised men who were HIV-positive but were not bothered about the HIV status of their prospective partner.
  • Serosorters: This type comprised men whose description of being a bug chaser or gift giver did not match their intentions and were seeking partners of equal HIV status. For instance, some HIV-positive men (8.5%) sought other HIV-positive men, whereas some HIV-negative men (12.5%) sought other HIV-negative men.
  • Ambiguous Bug Chasers or Gift Givers (16.3%): This type comprised men who did not know their HIV status. Therefore, it was not determined whether these men were bug chasers or gift givers.

Clearly, the evidence shows that bug chasing is far from being a myth and is engaged in by a small minority of the gay and bisexual community. For some, the research seems to echo one of the most wonderful lines from the song Frankly Mr Shankly by one of my favourite groups The Smiths. I’m sure Morrissey didn’t have bug chasing in mind when he sang the lyrics “I want to live and I want to love/I want to catch something that I might be ashamed of” but it does seem applicable.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Blechner, M. (2002). Intimacy, pleasure, risk, and safety. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy 6(3), 27–33.

Crossley, M.L. (2004). Making sense of ‘barebacking’: Gay men’s narratives, unsafe sex and the ‘resistance habitus’. British Journal of Social Psychology, 43, 225-244.

Gauthier, D. K.; Forsyth, C. J. (1999). Bareback sex, bug chasing, and the gift of death”. Deviant Behavior 20, 85-100.

Grov, C. (2004). “Make me your death slave”: Men who have sex with men and use the Internet to intentionally spread HIV. Deviant Behavior, 25, 329–349.

Grov, C. (2006). Barebacking websites: Electronic environments for reducing or inducing HIV risk. AIDS Care, 18, 990–997.

Grov, C. & Parsons, J.T. (2006). Bugchasing and Giftgiving: The potential for HIV transmission among barebackers on the Internet” AIDS Education and Prevention, 18, 490-503.

Hatfield, K. (2004). A Quest for belonging: Exploring the story of the bug chasing phenomenon. Paper presented at the National Communication Association Conference, Chicago, Illinois.

LeBlanc, B. (2007). “An Exploratory Study of ‘Bug Chasers'”. Sociological Imagination 43 (2): 13–20.

Moskowitz, D.A. & Roloff, M.E. (2007). The ultimate high: Sexual addiction and the bug chasing phenomenon. Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity 14, 21-40.

Moskowitz, D.A. & Roloff, M.E. (2007). The existence of a bug chasing subculture. Culture, Health and Sexuality, 9, 347-358.

Tewksbury, R. (2003). Bareback sex and the quest for HIV: Assessing the relationship in internet personal advertisements of men who have sex with men. Deviant Behavior, 25, 467-482.

Tewksbury, R. (2006). “Click here for HIV”: An analysis of internet-based bug chasers and bug givers. Deviant Behavior, 27, 379–395.

Flat mates: A brief look at BBW squashing fetishes

While researching a previous blog on fat fetishes, I came across the practice of ‘gut flopping’. According to the online Urban Dictionary, gut flopping is “where a large bellied individual raises his or her stomach and allows it to drop upon his or her sexual partner in a way that creates a smack sound [and] is an act performed for sexual pleasure”. There is an infamous clip on the internet featuring gut flopping (which you can check out here if you are so inclined), but there is little written about it academically (or non-academically for that matter). However, one variant of this that appears to be very popular among a minority of men is ‘BBW squashing’ (i.e., men being squashed by one or more ‘big beautiful women’ for sexual pleasure) and also known as ‘crushing’ or ‘smashing’ by squashing enthusiasts. One such BBW (‘Massive Mocha’) appeared on Dr. Drew’s US television show in October 2011 talking about her experiences as someone who catered for men’s fetish to be sat on and squashed by very large women. ‘Massive Mocha’ revealed that men ask her to sit on them until they feel they are going to pass out from loss of breath.

According to the Squashing Fetish website, there are many variations of the fetish. Heterosexual squashing comprises very obese women squashing smaller (typically thin) men. Homosexual squashing comprises very obese men squashing much smaller men. For some, fantasizing about being squashed may satisfy the sexual fetish. This may include someone (weighing anything from 200 pounds to 600 pounds) sitting, standing, jumping, and/or crushing their face, belly and/or chest (resulting in the person being squashed squirming). The relationship (concerning control) is psychologically similar to the dominant and submissive in sexual sadism and sexual masochism. Being unable to breathe (or breathe properly) appears to be critical in the fetish and in that sense shares similarities with hypoxyphilia (i.e., autoerotic asphyxiation in which individuals derive sexual arousal and pleasure from the restriction of their oxygen supply).

Last year (May 22, 2012), Channel 4 (in the UK) screened Nick Betts’ documentary My Big Fat Fetish. One of the women interviewed at length in the show was BBW Reenaye Starr. She was interviewed by a British tabloid newspaper prior to the show being aired and was asked whether the physical contact associated with a squashing was seen as the ultimate prize by men who pay to be squashed by her. Starr was reported as saying:

“It depends. There are so many different kinds of ‘fat admirers’. Some men are not interested in squashing at all. Some men are just into big ladies looking cute. And then there are some into hardcore pornography who want to see big ladies having sex. It all depends on what your sub-fetish is – but to these men, being with a big woman in any capacity is their ultimate desire. [My] subscribers come from all over the world. But there is definitely a huge following in the UK…I personally – other than my husband – have two feeders who send me money for food online. They don’t physically feed me as they’re too far away but one is based in the US now so he does come in for squashings”

In an online article on BBW squashing (which looks as though it was written by BBW squashers themselves but I can’t be sure), it noted we may not be able to explain how being squashed can be sexy, but it is an important part of foreplay for those who have this kind of fetish”. The (anonymous) writer confirms my own view that BBW squashing is on the same spectrum as sexual behaviours such as sadomasochism, bondage, and domination “which means that in order to find sexual pleasure, one must feel pain from lack of oxygen, beating, among others”. The article also claims that BBW Squashing “is not as life-threatening as autoerotic asphyxiation since the man can tap the BBW anytime he feels that he’s close to passing out”. It claims that most BBWs engage in squashing for financial reasons and that their primary aim is “to concentrate on the sexual gratification of their clients…Others like Queen Raqui, it’s more like a sport in which she also earns money, without the pressure of having sex with her clients”. The article mainly concerns all the different types of ways that men can be squashed by BBWs.

  • Face-Sitting: This position involves the man lying diagonally across a bed with his head at the corner of the bed. The BBW squasher (BBWS) then sits on the man’s head with the man’s face in the BBWS’s crotch. Some BBWSs may move or shake about to enhance the man’s pleasure.
  • Sixty-Nine (69): This position involves the man lying flat on the bed while the BBWS lies on top of him so that her face is in the man’s crotch and is facing his legs (and vice-versa). Either partner may stimulate each other’s genitals while in the 69 position.
  • Back-Lying: This position involves a man lying on his back with the BBWS sitting on him and crushing his chest and/or face.
  • Leg-Captivity: This position involves the BBWS wrapping the man’s head between her legs with the man facing either her crotch or her buttocks. The BBWS may completely suffocate the man in this position (and has to rely on the man to signal to her to let her know when to let go).
  • Riding Horse Man: This position (as might be expected from the name) involves the BBWS riding the man like a horse while he is on his front. This is said to increase the man’s sexual arousal.
  • Double Trouble: This is not a position as such but involves two BBWSs sitting on a man in any variation of the positions outlined above.

In a previous blog I examined both macrophilia (i.e., sexual pleasure and arousal from giants) and crush fetishes (i.e., sexual pleasure and arousal from crushing or being crushed), and there seems to be some psychological similarity between BBW squashing and these other sexual paraphilias and fetishes. For instance, some macrophiles date extraordinarily tall women (so called ‘Amazons’) even if they have to pay for the privilege to do so. For instance, Mikayla Miles (who when wearing her fetish boots nearly 7 feet in her fetish boots, and 6 feet 4 inches without the boots) provides private sessions with macrophiles to engage in behaviours such as trampling. This has a lot of resonance with BBW squashing. Research has been carried out into both sadomasochistic sexual activity and fat fetishes, but little on where they intersect. This would certainly be a fruitful area for further empirical investigation.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

All Experts (2009). Fetishism/BBW. September 16. Located at: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Fetishism-2835/2009/9/BBW-1.htm

Call Escort Girls (2012). BBW squashing. February 28. Located at: http://callescortgirls.com/bbw-squashing

Leigh, R. (2012). “I work with attractive women who love themselves – what could be more empowering than that?” My Big Fat Fetish’s Reenaye Starr on squashings and whether she feels exploited. Daily Mirror, May 22. Located at: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/my-big-fat-fetish-bbw-model-844022

Monaghan, L. (2005). Big handsome men, bears, and others: Virtual constructions of ‘fat male embodiment’. Body and Society, 11, 81-111.

Murray, S. (2004). Locating aesthetics: Sexing the fat woman. Social Semiotics, 14, 237-247.

Swami, V. & Tovee, M.J. (2009). Big beautiful women: the body size preferences of male fat admirers. Journal of Sex Research, 46, 89-96.

Terry, L.L. & Vasey, P.L. (2011). Feederism in a woman. Archives of Sexial Behavior, 40, 639-645.

Tickled pink: A brief look at knismolagnia

“My friend’s sister always asked me to tickle her, and I would. Then one day I was tickling her and she climaxed and kissed me. It freaked me out because I wasn’t tickling near her private parts. I thought that maybe it was a one time thing, so I tickled her two more times on different occasions, and she climaxed both times” (posting on the Is It Normal? website)

There are hundreds of sexual paraphilias of which little is known. One of the most obscure paraphilias but which is definitely known to exist is knismolagnia. According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal in his 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, knismophilia is a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal from tickling or being tickled (and is also known as titillagnia). The Right Diagnosis website claims the symptoms of knismolagnia are (i) sexual arousal gained from being tickled, (ii) sexual interest in tickling, (iii) recurring intense sexual urges involving tickling, and (iv) sexual arousal associated with tickling. A knismolagnia article on another online site (Gay Fetish Goth) claims that different individuals may find tickling of virtually any region of the body to be pleasurable, and that knismolagnia can also involve sexual arousal from simply watching others being tickled. The same article also noted (but without any supporting evidence) that:

However, people who claim to have a tickling fetish are likely to enjoy this activity to the exclusion of other pre-sex activities. For some, the focus is entirely on the tickling, with full intercourse less important or not included at all. People whose sexuality is based almost solely on tickling can be said to have a tickling fixation. This fixation may also exist outside of sexual contexts”.

As far as I can ascertain, there is almost nothing in the academic literature on knismolagnia. However, there are a number of online articles and writings about the sexual side of tickling although there is a common mistake I have spotted which may both have arisen from a single source. Many online sources – including the Acarophilia and Kinky Sex Questions websites – appear to include tickling as part acarophilia (the deriving of sexual arousal and pleasure from scratching or being scratched) when in fact it is not (although there is clearly a fine line between hard tickling and scratching).

In 2006, Dr. Lisa Shaffer and Dr. Julie Penn developed a comprehensive paraphilia classification system and published it as a book chapter in Dr. William Hickey’s book Sex Crimes and Paraphilia. In this chapter, Shaffer and Penn made specific reference to both acarophilia and knismolagnia although these mentions (while in an academic context) were part of a wider theoretical point noting that some paraphilias (specifically acarophilia and knismolagnia – although they used the term ‘titillagnia’ for the latter) were completely “innocuous” and that this demonstrated that not all sexual paraphiliacs were sex offenders (and vice-versa). This appears to be supported by the Right Diagnosis website which claims that treatment for knismolagnia is generally not sought and that individuals with the condition “simply learn to accept their fetish and manage to achieve gratification in an appropriate manner”.

According to a small article on the Kinky Sex Questions website (which also wrongly interchanges acarophilia and knismolagnia), sexual tickling is most “frequently done by fingers, feather and other objects or by licking”. It claims that initially, the person being tickled enjoys and encourages the tickler, but then turns into “helpless laughter”. The article also claims that the preferred tickling areas are “feet, armpits, navel, ribs, breasts and genitals” (although no evidence is given to support the claim). If this is true there is likely to be some crossover with other sexual paraphilias and fetishes including podophilia (i.e., foot fetishes) and maschalagnia (i.e., armpit fetishism).

The Acarophile website also contains an “Acarophilia Dictionary” which appears to relate acarophilia to a more specialized and idiosyncratic sub-type of sexual sadism and sexual masochism (in fact there appear to dozens of websites that cater for ‘tickle torture’ pornography if you do a quick Google search). The website uses the word ‘ticklephile’ to define “anyone, including adults and children of both sexes who have an acute interest, or fetish, about tickling or being tickled”. It also features some more specialized definitions including the ‘Tickle Top’, the ‘Tickle Bottom’, ‘Tickle Torture’ and a ‘Douhini’. These are the verbatim definitions from the Acarophilia Dictionary rather than my own re-wording:

  • Tickle Top: 
This refers to “the person who tickles, or tickle tortures another with the object of forcing the victim, usually restrained and helpless, to laugh hysterically, cry, scream, urinate, ejaculate and even pass out from prolonged intense tickling. Usually done with consent for erotic sexual gratification, but sometimes used as effective torture of prisoners”.
  • Tickle Bottom: 
This refers to “the victim, usually restrained, of tickle torture, either with consent by a tickle top for exercise or sexual gratification or by others as torture to obtain information or for sadistic pleasure. If very ticklish, the ‘bottom’ suffers acute agony from the body’s automatic reflexes, such as hysterical laughter, screaming, crying, muscle spasms, urination, ejaculation, and even convulsions and loss of consciousness. Common in BDSM, (bondage sado-masochism) practice, the tickle bottom should be in good physical health because severe tickling can cause strokes and seizures”.

  • Tickle Torture: 
This refers to a tied-up victim “be it in a rack or with ropes or hand-cuffs, in a strategic method, and tickled mercilessly. Usually, words are written on the victim’s feet, and pictures are taken, both still and moving. Rarely does sex occur, although erections and urination may”.

  • Douhini: 
This refers to a “tickle of the inside of an exposed armpit. The Douhini-er must then yell Douhini to further surprise the victim. Usually accompanied by a slight wave of the pointer finger. In other cases a Douhini can also be a jab to the armpit but that technique is usually frowned upon”.

According to most online sources, the main reason why sexual tickling is popular among those in the BDSM community is because the person is usually already restrained. The dominant partner may also blindfold their victim to enhance the sexual pain/pleasure. However, one online gay fetish site claims it is not popular. It asserted that “although some consider [knismolagnia] a BDSM activity, tickling is not fully recognised by the community and is relatively unknown in the mainstream. In dominance and submission scenarios, sexual partners may agree upon a safeword to signal that the tickling should stop”. According to a Wikipedia entry on tickling games, knismolagnia is derived from the term ‘knismesis’:

“Knismesis refers to the light, feather-like type of tickling. This type of tickling generally does not induce laughter and is often accompanied by an itching sensation. The knismesis phenomenon requires low levels of stimulation to sensitive parts of the body, and can be triggered by a light touch or by a light electrical current. Knismesis can also be triggered by crawling insects or parasites, prompting scratching or rubbing at the ticklish spot, thereby removing the pest”

Knismolagnia also includes ‘gargalesis’ which according to an article on knismolagnia in the (admittedly non-academic) Him and Her Sex Blog refers to:

“…harder, laughter-inducing tickling, and involves the repeated application of high pressure to sensitive areas. This ‘heavy tickle’ is often associated with play and laughter. The gargalesis type of tickle works on humans and primates, and possibly on other species. Because the nerves involved in transmitting ‘light’ touch and itch differ from those nerves that transmit ‘heavy’ touch, pressure and vibration, it is possible that the difference in sensations produced by the two types of tickle are due to the relative proportion of itch sensation versus touch sensation. While it is possible to trigger a knismesis response in oneself, it is usually impossible to produce gargalesthesia, the gargalesis tickle response, in oneself”

This short article also claims that varying forms and varying degrees of knismolagnia “from the pleasure experienced when tickled by a partner, to the sexual need to be tickled to reach orgasm”. It is also one of the few articles to note that knismolagnia doesn’t include non-tickling behaviours such as scratching and cutting. Of all the paraphilias I have examined in my blog, knismophilia appears to have been one of the least researched (academically or clinically).

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Hickey, E. (2006). Sex Crimes and Paraphilia. Prentice Hall, New Jersey: Pearson.

Him and Her Sex Blog (2012). Knismolagnia. February 12. Located at: http://himandhersexblog.tumblr.com/post/17661996177/knismolagnia

Right Diagnosis (2012). Knismolagnia. Located at: http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/k/knismolagnia/intro.htm

Shaffer, L. & Penn J. (2006). A comprehensive paraphilia classification system. In E.W. Hickey (Ed.), Sex Crimes and Paraphilia (pp. 69-93). Prentice Hall, New Jersey: Pearson.

Wikipedia (2012). Tickling game. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tickling_game

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